I love to spend Triduum* with my community at the monastery. We have such wonderful, rich liturgies that call me into a space of deep reflection, sorrow, repentance, wonder and joy.
This year I did not make it up to the monastery for Triduum because of my resident chaplaincy work at Abbott Northwest Hospital. I had the opportunity to preside and gather with folks in the Mental Health Unit for a Good Friday service and time of reflection. As I prepared my reflection I found myself at a loss to know what to say to those who would be part of the gathering. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say or could not come up with material – it just seemed out of context with these folks. How do you talk about the cross with patients who have mental health problems, who daily bear their cross because they are stigmatized, misunderstood in their suffering, marginalized in our society and often looked on with disdain? Frankly I was at a loss how to communicate the suffering of the cross to these patients. In desperation I looked on the internet for some reflection resources. I couldn’t find much information and what I did find often felt as if I was trying to put a square block in a round hole. I was stuck, or at least felt stuck, about how to communicate the meaning of the cross to these folks who have a deep, anguishing faith because of their suffering. I found some words from Henri Nouwen on brokenness and the cross that I tried to reflect on and communicate the following: